Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review: Speed of Trust

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes EverythingThe SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Powerful, powerful, powerful!  Before reading this book, I did not know anything about trust except that it is awfully difficult to rebuild once it has been violated.  I never thought about the nature of trust, when and how we come to trust and distrust others, or when and how others come to trust or distrust us.  But it turns out that this is very rich subject to explore.  Covey's breakdown of the component parts of trust is clear and memorable, the very essence of excellent teaching.  The action steps he lays out for building and rebuilding trust puts each of us in the driver's seat. 

The author's father published a book in 1989 that included the following passage I had turned into a poster for my office wall: "If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other - while my character is flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity - then, in the long run, I cannot be successful.  My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do - even using so-called good human relations techniques - will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique."  Those sentences have haunted me since I read them... and deep down inside I know this is the root cause of any unhappy relationship (personal or professional) in my life.  I can embrace the Seven Habits and work on my character every day, and I do, but I never understood how I was affecting others until Covey, Jr. spelled it out in Speed of Trust.  Reading this was a life changing moment for me as I am sure it will be for anyone who seeks to understand themselves and their interactions with others.

A word of caution to fellow professionals who work with groups and organizations: I've twice tried to use the exercises in this book to help clients move through planning when trust has broken down among a group of colleagues. Twice it has backfired, once quite disastrously.  When people are feeling betrayed and angry with each other, they are looking for the outside consultant to come in and proclaim the others wrong.  Powerful as self-assessment was for me, it is clear that unless people are ready to receive the message they will reject the messenger.  I will continue to recommend the book and share the exercises in leadership development and training programs, or when asked about rebuilding trust, but otherwise keep what I have learned to myself.  That is where it is most powerful, anyway.

You can download a two-page summary, written by me, when you click here.

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